Summit Notebook

Exclusive outtakes from industry leaders

The secret lives of auto executives


Ed Whitacre sneaks off to breakfast at a Detroit greasy spoon. Sergio Marchionne’s attention to detail extends to the condition of his factories’ bathrooms. And Bill Ford helped save his great-grandfather’s company by hocking the blue oval. 

These are just a few of the glimmers of top Detroit auto executives’ lives that you get when you sit down with Ron Gettelfinger, head of the United Auto Workers union. 

Marchionne, the chief executive of Italian automaker Fiat — which pulled Chrysler out of bankruptcy this year, seems to be “extremely respectful” of his workforce, Gettelfinger told the Reuters Autos Summit in Detroit on Tuesday. 

“I know he’s went out into the facilities and one of the things that he did was walk into the restroom to inspect it. Now you don’t normally see that happen,” Gettelfinger said. “But he truly believes in the power of the people, the value they add to the process.” 

iSkyscraper? If you were Apple, why not?

If you had paid $3.5 billion for a skyscraper named after bankrupt automaker General Motors, wouldn’t you want a tenant to come in and pay you another few million to rename the building, with the added bonus of giving it a name not associated with a failed recipient of government largesse?

Boston Properties, which bought the building last year, located at the southeast corner of Central Park in Manhattan, is not known to be shopping around the naming rights to the building, but a top real estate broker in Manhattan, known as the “Queen of the Skyscraper” has one suggestion if ever it is : Apple.

Yahoo cedes search game to Google, for now

(Updated with more quotes)

If you’re losing the game, time to change the playing field. Yahoo is counting on exactly that.

Ari Balogh, Yahoo’s chief technology officer and product development czar, would be among the first to admit that Google reigns supreme in the search space.